by Jenna Bratcher

August 4, 2021

Jenna Bratcher is StyleBlueprint Nashville’s Associate Editor and Lead Writer. The East Coast native moved to Nashville 14 years ago, by way of Los Angeles. She is a foodie through and through and enjoys exploring the local restaurant scene bite by bite.

Interior designer Alli Simmons and commercial portfolio manager Hunter Roberts met on the first day of classes at Samford University. They struck up a friendship that appeared platonic until just before their graduation senior year — that’s when Hunter leaped at the chance to ask Alli out on a date before they went their separate ways. Three years later, an engagement was on the horizon!

In the process of closing on their first home together, the couple received a message from their realtor, who told them she was out of town and needed them to stop by the house for an inspection-related issue. “I was like, ‘No, we don’t have time; we can go tomorrow,’” says Alli. “We were going to be late for our reservation; I was so frustrated!” But when the couple arrived, it turned out the realtor’s message had been a ruse, and Hunter pulled off the perfect surprise as he got down on one knee and proposed in their future abode. They celebrated over dinner at Char in Green Hills, then met up with family friends for even more celebration at Alli’s parents’ house.

The newlyweds stroll in the garden

Introducing Mr. and Mrs. Hunter Roberts! This pair built a friendship during their years at Samford University — until things took a turn for the romantic, right before their graduation.

The planning process for their big day began immediately, but Alli and Hunter ran into a bit of a snag when it came to planning the date. “Hunter’s sister had actually just found out she was pregnant, and her due date was the original date that I picked,” chuckles Alli about the coincidence. “We re-looked at dates because we wanted her to be there!” They finally landed on May 22, 2021, and began looking at local Davidson County venues to accommodate their large guest list.

Ultimately, they opted to have it a little closer to home … In fact, it doesn’t get much closer. “We landed on having it at my own house,” says Alli, referring to the stunning home off Tyne Boulevard where she grew up, owned by her mom, Sissy, and dad, Mark Simmons of Mark Simmons Interiors. The couple chose Hillsboro Church of Christ for the ceremony, which is the first church Alli attended as a child. “It’s a really pretty church, so I always thought it’d be pretty cool to get married there,” she tells us.

Given Alli’s creative background, she set about planning most of the wedding on her own, enlisting help from a planner, The New Eclectic, for recommendations, vendor consultations, additional ideas, and day-of coordination. “As an interior designer and a creative, I can see things,” says Alli. “I wanted a planner because I’ve never planned a wedding, but I really just needed guidance. I also didn’t want me or my parents to worry about anything the day of!”

The bride also began her quest for the perfect dress, managing to find the perfect classic beauty on day one of her search. “I scheduled to go to The Bride Room in Green Hills and actually found my dress the first day!” she admits. “I wanted something simple and timeless — nothing frou-frou — but I also didn’t want it to feel like it was a prom dress; I wanted it to have some drama.” Her ideal find, she chose a Monique Lhuillier stunner with an eye-catching back.

The bride's dress hanging from the spiral staircase

Alli found her gorgeous Monique Lhuillier gown at The Bride Room in Green Hills and ordered extra fabric to make a wrap for the ceremony, which she removed for the reception.

RELATED: This Classic Nashville Wedding is Steeped in Family Traditions

Flowers and invitation suite to interior designer's wedding

The invitation suite from Mary Deaton Heldman gave the 220 wedding guests a sneak peek of the timeless design Alli infused into her wedding day.

The bride's Jimmy Choo shoes by a flower and the wedding bands

“I wore Jimmy Choo shoes and pearl-drop earrings from Hazel Smyth,” says the bride of her beautiful accessories.

Interior designer Alli Simmons getting ready for her wedding

“Being at my parents’ house was one of my favorite parts of the day,” says Alli. “It felt easy and super relaxed because I was at home. I’m a homebody in general, so it was easy to wake up in the bed that I grew up in and get ready with all of my friends there.

The bride, an interior designer, in her wedding dress on a spiral staircase

Stunning and statuesque in her gown, Alli awaits first looks.

Black and white photo of the bride in her gown, standing in a hallway

Photographer Liz Allison employed true black-and-white film, later developing the images in a dark room for the desired effect.

When it came to her bridal party, which consisted of family and friends, Alli had a specific shade of champagne that she wanted her 11 bridesmaids to wear. “True champagne is hard to find,” she admits. “You can go yellow or brown pretty quickly. We tried on a lot of bridesmaid dresses, but it all ended up flowing together.” Sticking with her classic, neutral-toned motif, the couple chose Stella Rose Floral to create luscious white-and-green bouquets with just a hint of pink mixed in for warmth.

Alli and her bridesmaids laughing

“They ended up wearing Amsale; we got them at Bella Bridesmaids,” says Alli of the champagne-colored dresses worn by her bridesmaids.

Alli Simmons in her wedding gown, holding her bouquet

Gorgeous florals from Stella Rose Floral stand out against the white of the bride’s dress.

First looks for Hunter and Alli

The couple met up in front of the massive windows in a private hall of the Simmons’ home for first looks. “The photographer was up on the stairs,” says the bride. “It’s nice that it was private  — the photographers could still [capture] the experience, but it wasn’t a big thing in front of everybody.”

The bride and groom with their Boxer, Zeke

Zeke, the Boxer that Hunter has had since college, was thrilled to pose for some pre-ceremony photos.

The wedding party cheering

With 11 bridesmaids and 10 groomsmen, which included family members as well as friends from both high school and college, there was plenty of celebratory fun to be had.

Held at the Hillsboro Church of Christ, the ceremony was filled with love, music from none other than Alison Krauss, and plenty of memorable moments — particularly when the adorable flower girls made their way down the aisle. “I don’t think they dropped one flower,” laughs Alli. “One of them started sprinting down, and the other one walked down the aisle with her hands over her eyes. Then she stopped to say hello to her grandmother.” Following the sweet (and somewhat unpredictable) flower girl antics, the couple exchanged traditional vows and rings. Then, guests hopped on shuttles to head back to the Simmons’ residence for the grand reception.

Two flower girls holding hands

Precious flower girls Millie and Harper stole the show!

Black and white image of the bride and her father, waiting to walk down the aisle

Wearing her sister-in-law’s veil, the bride grins at her father, Mark Simmons of Mark Simmons Interiors, just before he walks her down the aisle.

A black-and-white photo of the newlyweds kissing outside of the church

The newlyweds exit the ceremony and prepare to head to their reception.

Greenery adorned the length of the regal stair railing in the front of the Simmons’ home, adding dramatic flair to the cocktail hour, as guests feasted on mini BLTs, brie, and Tennessee strawberry canapés with whipped honey cinnamon spread, and house-made pimento cheese on mini sweet potato biscuits.

The pop-up bars served beer and wine, and for a personalized touch, a signature cocktail named after Zeke, Alli and Hunter’s beloved Boxer. “We were trying to decide what cocktail to do, and then Hunter and I went to our tasting with the caterer,” says Alli. Though Hunter isn’t typically a fruit tea kind of guy, he fell in love with the caterer’s recipe, and they decided to incorporate it into their big day. Hunter was like, “What if we just put bourbon in this fruit tea?” Alli tells us. With a special nod to their favorite pup, they named it Zeke’s Famous Tennessee Tea.

The Simmons home in Nashville

The Simmons’ residence offered the perfect majestic backdrop for both the cocktail hour and reception. “When people were going through the house, our planner told us to go sit somewhere,” Alli tells us. It ended up being one of her favorite moments of the day. “We sat in one of the rooms in my parents’ house and spent some time together — just the two of us — before the party started. We looked out the window, and it was fun to be by ourselves and take it all in. We watched everyone walk into the party we’d been planning for so long.”

Signature cocktail with frame that reads "Zeke's Famous Tennessee Tea."

Zeke, Hunter’s pup since college, earned a special place of honor — he had a specialty cocktail named after him!

Bar setup with bottles of wine, flowers, lamp and koozies

Zeke was also featured on the festive reception koozies.

The bride used her interior design savvy to create a summer-inspired, somewhat formal (but certainly not stiff) aesthetic for the reception theme. “I wanted patterns, but I’m so particular,” says the bride, who spends her life making her clients’ design dreams come true at Mark Simmons Interiors. “I wanted these floral tablecloths that I had in my head,” she tells us, “but none of the florals were right at the rental places. We ended up ordering floral fabric from the office to go on the tables instead.” A checked pattern on the lighting fixtures hanging from the reception tent also tied in the blue-and-tan color scheme she had in mind.

For the seated dinner from Flavor Catering, guests feasted on a summery starter salad that featured spiced walnuts and Mandarin oranges, marinated and grilled chicken with lemon-artichoke cream sauce, sautéed green beans with caramelized shallots, and sour cream and chive mashed potatoes. After dinner, the bride tossed her bouquet; the couple cut their cake and shared their first dance to Michael Bublé’s “Everything,” and guests hit the dance floor to enjoy music from Skyline Drive Band.

Long dining table under the wedding tent, complete with tablescape

An interior designer’s dream tablescape, this dining setup is the perfect display of summery elegance.

Tablescape at an interior designer's wedding, with a plate of salad

A gorgeous seated dinner from Flavor Catering included this pretty spring mix salad with crumbled feta cheese, spiced walnuts, sun-dried cranberries, and Mandarin oranges, topped with a white balsamic vinaigrette.

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Four-tiered white wedding cake with fresh roses

The cake, a French vanilla masterpiece with cream cheese icing, created by Duncan Gross of Dunk Bakes, was a timeless, four-tiered beauty with a simple decor of fresh roses.

Ohio State Groom's cake from interior designer's wedding

Created by Nashville Sweets, Hunter’s groom’s cake was a chocolate cake in the shape of the Ohio State University logo, surrounded by chocolate-dipped peanut butter Buckeyes. “He had a really specific vision of what he wanted,” says Alli. “He’s a big Ohio State fan and had his heart set on that design.” 

Alli and Hunter cut the wedding cake

The bride and groom cut their first slice of the grand wedding cake.

Black and white image of bride and groom departing as rice is thrown.

Though Alli initially planned on having everyone throw flower petals, plans changed at the last minute. “I guess I never translated that idea well enough to the florist or planner,” Alli laughs, “so it got to [departure] time, and my planner asked my sister — who was the Maid of Honor — if everyone was supposed to throw something.” Springing into action, Alli’s sister and planner scrounged through the kitchen drawers and came up with an assortment of rice. “They cleared out my mom’s drawer full of rice and orzo,” says Alli.It was stuck all over me, but it looked cool in the pictures. Luckily, my mom keeps a good stock of rice!”

The bride and groom opted to stick around for a few days to avoid the stress of an immediate departure, leaving the following week on their honeymoon to Cancun rather than the morning after the wedding. As for the advice Alli would offer to future brides, she suggests not sweating the small stuff. “Don’t overthink things,” she recommends. “If you stress, it takes a lot of the fun out of it. Those little details you stress over won’t make that much of a difference in the grand scheme of things, so find ways to make it fun!”

Thank you, Alli and Hunter, for sharing your day! And thanks to Liz Allison of Liz Allison Photography for the beautiful photos.

RESOURCES

Reception venue: Simmons residence
Photography: Liz Allison
Wedding planner:  The New Eclectic
Bride’s hair: Whitney Wilder O’Dell of Hunter Paige by Parlour 3
Bride’s makeup: Kat Willingham
Florals: Stella Rose Floral
Cake: Dunk Bakes
Groom’s cake: Nashville Sweets
Stationery: Mary Deaton Heldman
Calligraphy: Mary Deaton Heldman
Bride’s gown: Monique Lhuillier from The Bride Room
Bride’s shoes: Jimmy Choo
Jewelry: Hazel Smyth Jewelry
Bridesmaids’ dresses: Amsale from Bella Bridesmaids
Groom’s tux: Men’s Warehouse
Groom’s shoes: Men’s Warehouse
Caterer: Flavor Catering
Ceremony music: Alison Krauss accompanied by Blaine Johnson and Kelli Cox
Cocktail hour band: Skyline Drive Band
Reception band: Skyline Drive Band
Transportation: Matchless Transportation
Videography: With This Ring

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